We also understand there’s a great deal we can’t anticipate—the events of 2016 certainly proved that for people and businesses around the world, (including those in the hardwood lumber industry), but we believe that effective planning still plays an essential role in moving forward during the new year.
Here are five key considerations we will be including in our 2017 thinking. Perhaps you might find some value in some of them for your own organization.
1. Look at the big picture. After the post-holiday lull, the rapid pace of business will once again sweep us all into a frenetic daily routine—but before that happens, now is a good time to look at how your business fits into the big picture. Have your company’s objectives changed since the start of 2016? Are there new pressures to contend with that demand a shift in strategy? What new opportunities are likely to emerge?
2. Narrow your focus. Paradoxically, looking at the big picture necessarily requires looking back to last year’s business highlights. These include your strongest sales months, most productive sales channels, most successful online initiatives and marketing campaigns, etc. From there, you can narrow your focus to areas where you’d most like to see improvement in the coming year, such as:
- Recruiting new members to your executive team
- Determining new lead-generation strategies
- Removing obstacles or roadblocks in your business operations
- Refining existing products or launching a new product
Determining what’s most important now influences your strategies, tactics and timelines for implementation throughout the year.
3. Identify strategies for enhancing customer relationships. Regardless of your company’s product or service, the most important element in any facet of planning is (or ought to be) your customers.
From our experience dealing with hardwood lumber products, we realize B2B buyers are far more sophisticated and demanding than ever before. Thanks to the vast array of online resources, most of these customers have done considerable research before their first contact with your business. As a result, they’re often in a better negotiating position when it comes to purchasing your products.
But even if you’re successful in closing a big sale, today’s customers won’t automatically grant you lifetime loyalty. They want to engage in a relationship with vendors and you will most likely need to continually earn their trust.
“Even after the purchase, ensure the customer knows they can come to you for advice,” writes marketing expert Malinda Wilkinson. “This relationship not only paves the way for long-term sales, but can serve as a differentiator when your customer’s peers are evaluating and researching new products on their own.”
4. Consider new ways to measure the path to achieving your goals. Planning only works if specific metrics are established and progress is steadily measured along the way. Think about creating new metrics by which to gauge growth first by month, then quarter, than by year’s end. Identify two or three key areas to measure (after first determining what “success” will look like).
5. Create a personalized SWOT analysis. The start of a new year is also a great time to re-examine your personal leadership style. Executive coach Tameka Williamson suggests applying the well-known SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis to yourself.
“The goal is not to to focus on the areas where you have the greatest opportunity for improvement,” she writes, ‘but to create a holistic view of where you are, what you have to offer, and how you can capitalize on them all.”
I would like to wish you great success with your new year planning. If we can help you with other 2017 ideas, and specifically your hardwood lumber needs, please let us know.
Happy New Year.